I’m a writer not a speaker

Our town is currently going through the budget process for the upcoming year. Have you ever looked at your town budget? I have been going through just the school department budget (line by line) and it is enough to make my hair straight.

One of the reasons I love living in a small town is the opportunity to be involved in the process. Everyone truly has a voice, if they use it. In the school department case, the townspeople elect the (unpaid, volunteer only) school committee. The committee hires a superintendent. The superintendent hires the school staff. People unfamiliar with small town policies forget that at the end of the day, the school superintendent and committee answer to the townspeople. We are supposed to be involved and ask questions so we understand not only what is happening in our town but why our taxes get raised (every freaking year).

It is not just the school department, but every public department head and/or committee in our town truly has to answer to the townspeople. This is especially true at Special and Annual Town Meetings. We are kind of the boss, if you will. In turn, we respect the committees we elected. We admire and are thankful for those who will get off their couch and out of their house to serve our town management. They are unpaid and during the budget season I do not think they ever have dinner at home. Or see their own families.

While we respect the committees and the work they do, we reserve the right to ask questions when there is confusion or need for clarity. On the whole they quickly respond and usually provide you with the answers.

Sorry for the back story, but it leads up to my most recent epic fail. (Most recent, as in I fail all the time and it is usually epic.)

The other night, after spending a week looking at the school budget (line by line) and feeling confused I attended the committee meeting. I wanted to receive answers directly from those who drafted the budget. I had a lot of questions. I had percentages of increase. I had very strong inquiries about how this budget would affect my children. Especially Bridget, not that Abby is not important. But Bridget has a lot of, well…issues. This budget could (in my mind) potentially affect how her services are delivered.

I had five minutes.

People, I am a writer not a public speaker for a reason.

I had my statement and questions (written, of course). It was my time to speak and….I sounded like I didn’t have a brain in my head. I was flustered, I wasn’t as concise as I needed to be. NEEDED to be because my questions were important. My questions deserved answers, yet I choked. When the parents of the school system who could not be there to ask for themselves, I let them down. I let my daughter down by not advocating for her in a manner that not only got my point across but in a way that would have had impact.

The saving grace of this epic fail is that I did speak. Better, I followed up in an e-mail to get the answers I needed. I’m a much better writer than public speaker.

In the short term, though, whenever I think of the term “epic fail” I will think of the time I went to the school committee to plead for my daughter’s program and had not effect.

Finish the Sentence Friday

This Finish that Sentence prompt was brought to us by the fabulous, and I mean wicked awesome:

Allie at The Latchkey Mom

Hosted by:
Finding Ninee
**This is no reflection of the Town Meeting process or the administration, etc….It is more a disappointment in my own public speaking issues***

16 thoughts on “I’m a writer not a speaker

  1. Janine Huldie

    I am also a better writer then public speaker at heart. Don’t get me wrong I can speak my mind, but I feel more comfortable and at home writing it then speaking it if that makes sense.


  2. Kenya G. Johnson

    Oh that’s tough. I’m not good with public speaking or meeting either. When my son was in second grade I asked for a meeting with his teacher to discuss some things I was unhappy about how they were going. I had typed out a giant font bulleted list of talking points. I tried to just talk to her without it but it all left my head. You should have seen her expression when I pulled out the paper. So then I read it and checked off as we went through it and it went well. I jot down notes for phone calls too, to make sure I don’t forget the main point of why I’m calling. E-mails are so much more effective if you can count on the receiver really reading it.


  3. thelatchkeymom

    OH, I have been to one of those town meeting before. They were redistricting our neighborhood and I got elected to speak on the before of the special needs kids – yeah, that was fun. I guess I didn’t do so well, because we did indeed get moved to a different school. And then we had to move:(.


  4. allisonbcarter

    I can’t even tell you how many public speaking flops I have had, and I overanalyze. & it turns out that no one else even remembers I spoke. Nice, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚ I applaud you for standing up & speaking and then having the passion and intelligence to make sure tou were heard.

    (& ps: I totally noticed the name change!)


  5. Autism Mom

    Everything thinks they sounded worse than they actually did and I am certain that your points got across very clearly even if you were not as eloquent as you would have liked. ๐Ÿ˜€


  6. jamie@southmainmuse

    I bet you did just fine with your presentation. Everyone can feel for someone who is not comfortable speaking. (I am not either.) If anything, the courage you showed to do something that obviously was out of your comfort zone communicated how important this issue was to you and hopefully gave your arguments more weight. You never know?


  7. Nicki

    Kerri, I totally get the small town politics – sounds like we live in similar towns :). I totally relate to the words-in-the-throat, brainless, flustered feeling… and I was a speaker before I was a writer!! Epic fail here, though? NO WAY! You showed up, you stepped up, for your daughter and for what you believe in, and are an agent of change no matter what or how you say it. YOU ROCK!


  8. ruchira

    Kerri, I too would have faltered, so no guilty feeling, my friend!

    It is not easy to avoid stammering when people of that particular field fill up the room and you are a novice. You dared to take a stance mattered, and I am glad you wrote an email and got your answers ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. kellylmckenzie

    It happens to the best of us. I’m a theatre major. First audition? Director asked me for my name and I found myself switching up the first letters of both names. He called me Relly for the rest of the audition. No I did not get the part …


  10. Kristi Campbell - findingninee

    I’ll bet that you did way better than you think you did but I hear you on the speaking. I had to speak to a KID the other day (a 17yo girl) about what my company does and I was like nervous. WTF. Good for you though for being so on top of the school budget stuff!!!


  11. Christine

    I’m impressed that you went through the budget, let alone went to ask the questions. I’m sure you did just fine. If nothing else, they at least know who you are when you email them.


  12. Mardra

    Two things.
    1) Oh, my, yes. I get this. I did a reading recently in the community with many other artists, and I started shaking so much that I couldn’t hold the page I was reading anymore. Literally. Someone had to come hold the paper for me or I couldn’t continue. SO Embarrassing. And what’s worse, Kerri, I AM a public speaker on occasion.
    and 2) It’s awesome you spoke up at all, and probably everyone else thought you were awesome, too, btw. I’ll bet you’re the only one who saw it as a fail.


  13. Anna (@AnnaFitfunner)

    Kerri: writing might not have been so bad after all. These committees tend to act as much on the written record as what people speak about during a meeting. So the fact that you sent in a well-worded, well-informed, response may have served you better in the long run. I’m sending you some high fives for being involved in your town government, even if it was on this one issue. Great lesson for your kids about civic responsibility!



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